It is not news that the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox don't like each other. Their rivalry reaches back for generations, ever since the Yanks outbid the Sox for the services of Tyrannosaurus Rex on a long-term deal in 10,000,000 B.C.
The two teams' presidents, Randy Levine and Larry Lucchino, have often made their animosity public over the last several years. Lucchino's most famous quote came in 2002, when, upon the Yankees' signing of Cuban defector Jose Contreras, he stated that, "The evil empire extends its tentacles even into Latin America." Levine struck back during the ALCS in 2003, accusing Fenway Park of an "atmosphere of lawlessness" after an on-field brawl between the teams and a skirmish between the Yankees' bullpen and a groundskeeper. The jabs have continued over the years, with the most recent coming in September when Lucchino joked that if a brawl broke out between the two teams, he'd be "going after" Levine.
The rivalry added another chapter on Friday. In regards to comparing the two franchises, Lucchino had this to say, via Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News:
"We're very different animals. I'm proud of that difference," Lucchino said when asked to contrast the styles of the two clubs. "I always cringe when people lump us together. Other baseball teams sometimes do that. They are still, this year at least, relying heavily on their inimitable old-fashioned Yankees style of high-priced, long-term free agents. I can't say I wish them well, but I think we've taken a different approach."
"If you compare what we did last year in the offseason to what they've done this year, there's quite a contrast there," Lucchino said. "I'll quickly say we do keep open the prospect of signing a long-term deal with a free agent, paying a sizable amount of money to attract a star in his prime. We haven't ruled that out. There's just a rebuttable presumption against doing that. But you can rebut it. The circumstances can allow for you to go ahead and do it. The Yankees do it more often it seems to me as a matter of course."
This statement actually seems relatively benign, considering the history between these two men. Lucchino is passively critical of the Yankees' strategy of throwing gobs of money at star free agents, but he resists the urge to rub his recent World Series victory in their faces as proof that his strategy is superior in the sport's current climate. He merely points out that Boston is not as willing to give out long-term mega-deals, which makes sense after the nine-figure contracts for Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford didn't work out as planned. The biggest deal that they've given out since the debacle that was their 2012 season is the three-year pact signed by Shane Victorino. Meanwhile, New York handed out $438 million in contracts this winter to marquee free agents Masahiro Tanaka (seven years), Jacoby Ellsbury (seven years), Brian McCann (five years) and Carlos Beltran (three years).
"I feel bad for Larry; he constantly sees ghosts and is spooked by the Yankees," Levine told the Daily News. "But I can understand why, because under his and Bobby Valentine's plan two years ago, the Red Sox were in last place. Ben Cherington and the Red Sox did a great job last year winning the World Series, but I'm confident Cash and Joe and our players will compete with a great Red Sox team to win a world championship this year."
Now there's the vitriol we've grown accustomed to! Levine does credit the Red Sox (and general manager Ben Cherington, but not Lucchino) for their 2013 championship, but in the same breath he dredges up the poor memories of 2011 and 2012 while suggesting that Lucchino is still spooked by the aura of the Bronx Bombers.
Would these two guys please agree to a celebrity boxing match already? For all of us, fellas.